Thursday, April 17, 2008

Help me decide what to do with the rest of my life

As of late I've wrestled extensively with what I'm meant to do with the rest of my life. Being in the unenvied position of the recent post-grad, I'm dealing with the ubiquitous quarter-life crisis. I have just had my tarot cards read, which did not necessarily shed any more light onto my quandaries (other than letting me know that the universe will begin to reveal my path over time, which I kind of always figured would happen). So it's come down to this: which path of the two that I am considering do I choose? As with all soul-searching philosophical queries I have endured, I've drafted up the ever-popular Pros and Cons list. Please feel free to read over my list, add suggestions where appropriate, and give me the advice I'm sure you, my seasoned readers, have perhaps yourselves oft experienced.

What to do with my life?

Broadcasting/Journalism/TV/Film Production (Alpha Pacific/UofW/UofA/LoyMary)


  • Will get me faster to my ultimate goal in life, work w/the Travel Channel/Discovery Networks/BBC/Nat. Geo.
  • Brings me to the sunny, beautiful West :), where I want to be more than anything right now
  • More $$ ultimately (ostensibly)
  • Closer to my ultimate dream in life
  • Closer to what my background is in
  • Something I am well versed in
  • I know I would be good at this
  • More glamorous job in the long run
  • Will get us the fuck out of Michigan


  • Will have to wait until at least Fall 2009 or later to even begin school, meaning I’m stuck in Michigan for more time anyways
  • Will take Tom and I away from Michigan and our friends/family
  • Will ultimately have to put other things on hold after school to pursue career in earnest (kids, Tom’s degree, Travel Channel Academy, etc.), potentially putting me well into my thirties before I can consider these other life options
  • Tom will not necessarily have a job waiting for him where we go
  • Will mean we may have to move again shortly after I graduate so Tom can begin school, possibly hampering career options
  • Still a means to an end; ultimately do not want to be a broadcaster or journalist; rather would assist in moving towards ultimate goal of Travel Host
  • Journalism work will be hard-won- must work long, hard hours, earn my place, work holidays, nights, weekends (LIVE TO WORK)
  • Will take me away from Tom, family, friends, kids, etc. occasionally, and time at work will eat up leisure/family time
  • Is this ultimately a pipe dream? Is it realistic?
  • Will the degree really advance my career goals?
  • Is this degree superfluous?
  • Must spend more $$ and go further into debt
  • Less guaranteed and less secure than other career options
  • Reliant on my looks?

Secondary Education Masters (WSU, UofA)


  • Love of teaching
  • Very rewarding vocation, enriching kids' lives, helping the future, etc.
  • Unbeatable vacation time (all holidays, all summer)
  • Unbeatable weekday hours (7 or 8 a.m.-4 or 5 p.m., more or less guaranteed); no weekends EVER!!!
  • WORK TO LIVE (personal philosophy)
  • When we have kids, will keep same schedule and can be deeply involved in their lives
  • Potential to bring us back to Europe and further afield with international teaching opportunities (big plus)
  • Can live more transient, travel and leisure-centered lifestyle
  • Means to an end; does not necessarily bar me from pursuing other opportunities, either simultaneously, or upon sabbaticals
  • Work is more or less guaranteed and more secure than other options (there will always be teaching opportunities)
  • Money will be pretty good with Masters preparation
  • WSU program is 2-in-1: Masters degree and certification, putting me into a higher pay scale automatically
  • Benefits, paid vacation, health insurance, 401-K, retirement; all those good and necessary things
  • Will keep us in Michigan for a bit longer so Tom can gain extra experience at his job, possibly advancing further and making good $$
  • Michigan teaching cert. reciprocal with many other U.S. states, making it very easy to pick up and move where necessary
  • I can always return to teaching if other things don’t pan out, and I know I can enjoy it
  • Can begin taking deficient classes at Wayne almost immediately


  • Work does not necessarily end with school bell: lesson planning, grading, reading papers, extracurricular work, PTA, etc.
  • Am I meant to become a teacher?
  • Group work experience may be difficult to obtain, possibly extending the time it takes to be accepted into College of Ed
  • A LOT of deficient classes that must be taken Post-Bac before I can be accepted into College of Ed
  • More $$ and more debt
  • Must stay in Michigan for at least another 2 ½-3 years (BIG negative)

Come on, universe! Hurry up and tell me what I'm meant to do with my life!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

*Sigh of Relief*

Yes. We did it. We mailed our invitations yesterday. Well, about 96% of them. We just have a couple of stragglers left, addresses we've yet to confirm and whatnot.


Check 'em out:

Somehow this makes it that much more real! There's no going back, now!


On a semi-related note, here's a piccie of me at my very first bridal shower (that I attended as the guest of honour) this past weekend:Oh, and here's a random piccie of darling Kitty Head Face, enjoying some tasty yoghurt (which she loves):

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Slowly completing the transformation into a fucktard

Chanel 5018's

Yes, I know. I'm a tardling. I have fallen hard, and it's for a pair of sunglasses. That retail for $450. And have completely sold out of all Chanel boutiques the world over. And are only found on Ebay, for $1100+.

And that Mary-Kate and Nicole Richie wear.


But I can't help it! I've totally fallen for their ridiculous shape, their abstract styling, and their completely over-the-top fabulosity (I cringe to use a line coined by none other than the sow Kimora Lee Simmons, but really, how else can I describe these beauties?)! The wiggly arms are adorable, and that half-tint thing, while distracting and almost Harry-Potter-ish, just does something to me. I can't explain it.

I need these in my life.

I cannot wait until they finally make a high-quality replica that I can snap up for beans.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

WTF? My Sunscreen May be Giving Me Cancer?

Now that I work for a skincare and cosmetics company that is 100% vegetarian, 75% vegan and 100% cruelty-free (final product AND each and every ingredient- we don't purchase our raw ingredients from companies that test on animals, snap) and being vegetarian myself, I am very conscious of not only what I put into my body, but also, what I use on it to take care of my skin. Everyone knows you're meant to use a sun protectant every day, regardless of whether you will be in the sun for a short period on the way in and out of work or not. That being said, I am alarmed at a recent study by the CDC regarding the toxicity of a common ingredient used as a sun protectant in many sun-screens and -blocks, Oxybenzone. What the hell have chemical companies been doing to our skin all these years, unbeknownst to us? Just when we think we're doing right by our skin and protecting ourselves, we may all along have slowly been contributing to toxic poison loads in our bodies. Shame on chemical companies that release toxic chemicals into the very products meant to protect us, and shame on the FDA for failing to protect the consumer by keeping these results from us for over 30 years.


"CDC: Americans Carry Body Burden of Toxic Sunscreen Chemical"

25 MAR 2008 A new study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reveals that 97% of Americans are contaminated with a widely-used sunscreen ingredient called oxybenzone that has been linked to allergies, hormone disruption, and cell damage. A companion study published just one day earlier revealed that this chemical is linked to low birth weight in baby girls whose mothers are exposed during pregnancy. Oxybenzone is also a penetration enhancer, a chemical that helps other chemicals penetrate the skin.

Although oxybenzone is most common in sunscreen, companies also use the chemical in at least 567 other personal care products.

Environmental Working Group identified nearly 600 sunscreens sold in the U.S. that contain oxybenzone, including products by Hawaiian Tropic, Coppertone, and Banana Boat (see the full list of 588 sunscreens here) as well as 172 facial moisturizers, 111 lip balms, and 81 different types of lipstick.

The Food and Drug Administration has failed miserably in its duty to protect the public from toxic chemicals like oxybenzone in personal care products. At the request of industry lobbyists, including Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who represented the Cosmetic Toiletry and Fragrance Association, the agency has delayed final sunscreen safety standards for nearly 30 years. FDA issued a new draft of the standards last October under pressure from EWG, but continues to delay finalizing them at the behest of the regulated industry.

EWG research shows that 84% of 910 name-brand sunscreen products offer inadequate protection from the sun, or contain ingredients, like oxybenzone, with significant safety concerns.

The last safety review for oxybenzone was done in the 1970s, and does not reflect a wealth of information developed since that time indicating increased toxicity concerns and widespread human exposure. A recent review in the European Union found that sufficient data were not available to assess if oxybenzone in sunscreen was safe for consumers.

Environmental Working Group again calls on FDA to review the safety of oxybenzone, given this new data on widespread contamination of the U.S. population, and to finalize its sunscreen safety standards so that consumers can be certain that sunscreen products they purchase are safe and effective.

CDC study of oxybenzone signals concern

Top scientists from CDC published results March 21, 2008 from a national survey of 2,500 Americans, age 6 and up, showing that oxybenzone readily absorbs into the body and is present in 97% of Americans tested (Calafat 2008). Oxybenzone, also known as benzophenone-3, was detected in the urine of nearly every study participant. Typically, women and girls had higher levels of oxybenzone in their bodies than men and boys, likely a result of differences in use of body care products including sunscreens.

A companion study released a day earlier revealed that mothers with high levels of oxybenzone in their bodies were more likely to give birth to underweight baby girls (Wolff 2008). Low birth weight is a critical risk factor linked to coronary heart disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and other diseases in adulthood (Lau 2004).
Oxybenzone damages and penetrates the skin

Among common sunscreen chemicals, oxybenzone is most likely to be associated with allergic reactions triggered by sun exposure. In a study of 82 patients with photoallergic contact dermatitis, over one quarter showed photoallergic reactions to oxybenzone (Rodriguez 2006); another study reported 1 in 5 allergic reactions to photopatch tests resulted from exposure to oxybenzone (Bryden 2006).

Sunlight also causes oxybenzone to form free radical chemicals that may be linked to cell damage, according to 2 of 3 studies (Allen 1996; Serpone 2002; Hanson 2006).

A less visible but more alarming concern, this chemical absorbs through the skin in significant amounts, as indicated by the CDC study. A previous biomonitoring study reported that 96% of 6 to 8 year old girls had detectable amounts of oxybenzone in their urine (Wolff 2007). An earlier study detected oxybenzone in the urine of all 30 adult participants (Ye 2005).

Studies on human volunteers indicate a wide variation in the level of oxybenzone absorbed into the body, with some individuals absorbing at least 9% of the applied dose, as measured in excretions in urine (Hayden 1997; Janjua 2004; Sarveiya 2004; Gonzalez 2006). Volunteers continued to excrete oxybenzone many days after the last application of the chemical, an indication of its tendency to accumulate in fatty tissues in the body (Gonzalez 2006).

In addition to its ability to absorb into the body, oxybenzone is also a penetration enhancer, a chemical that helps other chemicals penetrate the skin (Pont 2004).

Oxybenzone may disrupt the human hormone system

Studies on cells and laboratory animals indicate that oxybenzone and its metabolites, the chemicals the body makes from oxybenzone in an attempt to detoxify and excrete it, may disrupt the hormone system. Under study conditions, oxybenzone and its metabolites cause weak estrogenic (Nakagawa 2002; Schlumpf 2001, 2004; Kunz 2006; van Liempd 2007) and anti-androgenic (Ma 2003) effects. Oxybenzone displays additive hormonal effects when tested with other sunscreen chemicals (Heneweer 2005). Laboratory study also suggests that oxybenzone may affect the adrenal hormone system (Ziolkowska 2006).

One human study coapplying 3 sunscreen active ingredients (oxybenzone, 4-MBC, and octinoxate) suggested a minor, intermittent, but statistically significant drop in testosterone levels in men during a one-week application period (Janjua 2004). Researchers also detected statistically significant declines in estradiol levels in men; other hormonal differences detected could not be linked to sunscreen use due to differences in baseline hormone levels before and during treatment.
Outdated health protections do not take into account these and other adverse effects

A 2006 European Union review concluded that a rigorous exposure assessment of oxybenzone was impossible, due to lack of information about the levels of absorption into the body (SCCP 2006). The levels of contamination reported in this latest CDC study indicate that absorption may be significant, consistent with previous, small-scale biomonitoring reports. A decades-old evaluation by FDA, as well as more recent review by the cosmetics industry’s own safety panel, do not consider concerns regarding hormone disruption, nor the implications of the ability of oxybenzone to penetrate the skin (USPC 1975; FDA 1978; CIR 1983, 2002). At present, no health-based standards exist for safe levels of oxybenzone in the body.

Additional cautions must be employed when considering the effects of oxybenzone on children. The surface area of a child's skin relative to body weight is greater than adults. As a result, the potential dose of a chemical following dermal exposure is likely to be about 1.4 times greater in children than in adults (SCCNFP 2001). In addition, children are less able than adults to detoxify and excrete chemicals, and children's developing organ systems are more vulnerable to damage from chemical exposures, and more sensitive to low levels of hormonally active compounds (NAS 1993; Janjua 2004). Children also have more years of future life in which to develop disease triggered by early exposure to chemicals (NAS 1993). Despite these well-documented concerns regarding children's sensitivity to harmful substances, no special protections exist regarding ingredients in personal care products marketed for babies and children.

The fraction of oxybenzone that is not absorbed into the human body often contaminates water, washed from the skin during swimming and water play or while bathing (Lambropolou 2002; Danovaro 2008). Wastewater treatment removes only a fraction of this sunscreen chemical (Li 2007), resulting in detection of oxybenzone in treated wastewater, in lake and sea waters due to recreational use or to discharges from water treatment facilities, and even in fish (Balmer 2005; Cuderman 2007; Li 2007). Studies show oxybenzone can trigger outbreaks of viral infection in coral reefs (Danovaro 2008), and can cause feminization of male fish (Kunz 2006). Despite significant ecological concerns, there are no measures in place to protect sensitive ecosystems from damage caused by this contaminant.

EWG to FDA: Oxybenzone investigation is long overdue

FDA last reviewed the safety of oxybenzone in the 1970s (USPC 1975), republishing its evaluation in 1978, at the same time it announced plans to develop comprehensive standards for sunscreen safety and effectiveness (FDA 1978). 30 years later, the Agency has yet to issue final regulations. Instead, it encourages manufacturers to follow draft guidelines that the Agency has delayed finalizing at the behest of the sunscreen industry. As a result, sunscreen manufacturers in the U.S. are free to market products containing ingredients like oxybenzone that have not been proven safe for people.

Found in over half of the 910 name-brand sunscreen products we reviewed, oxybenzone is tied to significant health concerns that must be scrutinized. Instead, FDA’s refusal to re-examine this ingredient keeps sunscreens containing oxybenzone on the market. Petitions for review of newly developed sunscreen ingredients approved for use in other countries, and with far fewer health concerns, have been met with similar inattention, blocking Americans’ access to better products.

FDA foot-dragging has left the U.S. without enforceable standards for sunscreen safety and effectiveness for decades. EWG demands that FDA finalize the latest version of its monograph on sunscreen products immediately, and launch an investigation into the safety of the sunscreen ingredient oxybenzone.

EWG report on sunscreen safety

Allen JM, Gossett CJ, Allen SK. 1996. Photochemical formation of singlet molecular oxygen in illuminated aqueous solutions of several commercially available sunscreen active ingredients. Chemical research in toxicology 9(3): 605-609.

Balmer ME, Buser HR, Muller MD, Poiger T. 2005. Occurrence of some organic UV filters in wastewater, in surface waters, and in fish from Swiss lakes. Environmental Science & Technology 39(4): 953-962.

Bryden AM, Moseley H, Ibbotson SH, Chowdhury MM, Beck MH, Bourke J, et al. 2006. Photopatch testing of 1155 patients: results of the U.K. multicentre photopatch study group. The British journal of dermatology 155(4): 737-747.

Calafat AM, Wong L-Y, Ye X, Reidy JA, Needham LL. 2008. Concentration of the sunscreen agent, benzophenone-3, in residents of the United States: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2003-2004. Environmental health perspectives 116: Available online March 21, 2008.

CIR (Cosmetic Ingredient Review). 1983. Final Report on the Safety Assessment of Benzophenones-1, -3, -4, -5, -9, and -11. Journal of the American College of Toxicology 2(5): 42.

CIR (Cosmetic Ingredient Review). 2002. BENZOPHENONE AND BENZOPHENONE-1, -2, -3, -4, -5, -6, -7, -8, -9, -10, -11, AND - 12. Journal of the American College of Toxicology 2(5).

Cuderman P, Heath E. 2007. Determination of UV filters and antimicrobial agents in environmental water samples. Analytical and bioanalytical chemistry 387(4): 1343-1350.

Danovaro R, Bongiorni L, Corinaldesi C, Giovannelli D, Damiani E, Astolfi P, et al. 2008. Sunscreens cause coral bleaching by promoting viral infections. Environmental health perspectives 116(4): 441-447.

FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration). 1978. Report on Sunscreen Drug Products for Over-the-Counter Human Drugs. 32 CFR 412. August 25, 1978.

Gonzalez H, Farbrot A, Larko O, Wennberg AM. 2006. Percutaneous absorption of the sunscreen benzophenone-3 after repeated whole-body applications, with and without ultraviolet irradiation. The British journal of dermatology 154(2): 337-340.

Hanson KM, Gratton E, Bardeen CJ. 2006. Sunscreen enhancement of UV-induced reactive oxygen species in the skin. Free radical biology & medicine 41(8): 1205-1212.

Hayden CG, Roberts MS, Benson HA. 1997. Systemic absorption of sunscreen after topical application. Lancet 350(9081): 863-864.

Heneweer M, Muusse M, van den Berg M, Sanderson JT. 2005. Additive estrogenic effects of mixtures of frequently used UV filters on pS2-gene transcription in MCF-7 cells. Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology 208(2): 170-177.

Janjua NR, Mogensen B, Andersson AM, Petersen JH, Henriksen M, Skakkebaek NE, et al. 2004. Systemic absorption of the sunscreens benzophenone-3, octyl-methoxycinnamate, and 3-(4-methyl-benzylidene) camphor after whole-body topical application and reproductive hormone levels in humans. Journal of Investigative Dermatology 123(1): 57-61.

Kunz PY, Galicia HF, Fent K. 2006. Comparison of in vitro and in vivo estrogenic activity of UV filters in fish. Toxicol Sci 90(2): 349-361.

Lambropoulou DA, Giokas DL, Sakkas VA, Albanis TA, Karayannis MI. 2002. Gas chromatographic determination of 2-hydroxy-4-methoxybenzophenone and octyldimethyl-p-aminobenzoic acid sunscreen agents in swimming pool and bathing waters by solid-phase microextraction. Journal of chromatography 967(2): 243-253.

Lau C, Rogers JM. 2004. Embryonic and fetal programming of physiological disorders in adulthood. Birth Defects Res C Embryo Today 72(4): 300-312.

Li W, Ma Y, Guo C, Hu W, Liu K, Wang Y, et al. 2007. Occurrence and behavior of four of the most used sunscreen UV filters in a wastewater reclamation plant. Water research 41(15): 3506-3512.

Ma RS, Cotton B, Lichtensteiger W, Schlumpf M. 2003. UV filters with antagonistic action at androgen receptors in the MDA-kb2 cell transcriptional-activation assay. Toxicological Sciences 74(1): 43-50.

Nakagawa Y, Suzuki T. 2002. Metabolism of 2-hydroxy-4-methoxybenzophenone in isolated rat hepatocytes and xenoestrogenic effects of its metabolites on MCF-7 human breast cancer cells. Chem Biol Interact 139(2): 115-128.

NAS (National Academy of Sciences). 1993. Pesticides in the Diets of Infants and Children. Washington DC: National Academy Press.

Pont AR, Charron AR, Brand RM. 2004. Active ingredients in sunscreens act as topical penetration enhancers for the herbicide 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol 195(3): 348-354.

Rodriguez E, Valbuena MC, Rey M, Porras de Quintana L. 2006. Causal agents of photoallergic contact dermatitis diagnosed in the national institute of dermatology of Colombia. Photodermatol Photoimmunol Photomed 22(4): 189-192.

Sarveiya V, Risk S, Benson HAE. 2004. Liquid chromatographic assay for common sunscreen agents: application to in vivo assessment of skin penetration and systemic absorption in human volunteers. Journal of Chromatography B-Analytical Technologies in the Biomedical and Life Sciences 803(2): 225-231.

SCCNFP (Scientific Committee on Cosmetic Products and Non-Food Products). 2001. Opinion on the Evaluation of Potentially Estrogenic Effects of UV-filters adopted by the SCCNFP during the 17th Plenary meeting of 12 June 2001. Opinion: European Commission - The Scientific Committee on Cosmetic Products and Non-Food Products Intended for Consumers.

SCCP (Scientific Committee on Cosmetic Products). 2006. Opinion concerning Benzophenone-3. Opinion: European Commission - The Scientfic Committee on Cosmetic Products and Non-Food Products Intended for Consumers.

Schlumpf M, Cotton B, Conscience M, Haller V, Steinmann B, Lichtensteiger W. 2001. In vitro and in vivo estrogenicity of UV screens. Environmental health perspectives 109(3): 239-244.

Schlumpf M, Schmid P, Durrer S, Conscience M, Maerkel K, Henseler M, et al. 2004. Endocrine activity and developmental toxicity of cosmetic UV filters--an update. Toxicology 205(1-2): 113-122.

Serpone N, Salinaro A, Emeline AV, Horikoshi S, Hidaka H, Zhao JC. 2002. An in vitro systematic spectroscopic examination of the photostabilities of a random set of commercial sunscreen lotions and their chemical UVB/UVA active agents. Photochemical & Photobiological Sciences 1(12): 970-981.

USPC (United States Pharmacopeial Convention). 1975. United States Pharmacopeia, 19th Ed. U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention, Inc., Rockville, MD.

Van Liempd SM, Kool J, Meerman JH, Irth H, Vermeulen NP. 2007. Metabolic profiling of endocrine-disrupting compounds by on-line cytochrome p450 bioreaction coupled to on-line receptor affinity screening. Chemical research in toxicology 20(12): 1825-1832.

Wolff MS, Engel SM, Berkowitz GS, Ye X, Silva MJ, Zhu C, et al. 2008. Prenatal phenol and phthalate exposures and birth outcomes. Environmental health perspectives 116: Available online March 20, 2008.

Wolff MS, Teitelbaum SL, Windham G, Pinney SM, Britton JA, Chelimo C, et al. 2007. Pilot study of urinary biomarkers of phytoestrogens, phthalates, and phenols in girls. Environmental health perspectives 115(1): 116-121.

Ye X, Kuklenyik Z, Needham LL, Calafat AM. 2005. Automated on-line column-switching HPLC-MS/MS method with peak focusing for the determination of nine environmental phenols in urine. Analytical chemistry 77(16): 5407-5413.

Ziolkowska A, Belloni AS, Nussdorfer GG, Nowak M, Malendowicz LK. 2006. Endocrine disruptors and rat adrenocortical function: studies on freshly dispersed and cultured cells. Int J Mol Med 18(6): 1165-1168.

Idol Worship

"I'm selfish, impatient, and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control, and at times hard to handle. But if you can't handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don't deserve me at my best." ~ Marilyn Monroe

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

They Made Him A Knight of The Bleedin' Realm, Didn't They?

"I made hay while the sun shone.
My work sold.
Now, if the harvest is over
And the world cold,
Give me the bonus of laughter
As I lose hold."

Sir John Betjeman, "The Last Laugh"


Lauren and Stephanie becoming friends? WTF?! The Hills has gone Crazy-Town!